* Corn harvest seen down at 20 mln tonnes in 2011
* Harvest seen recovering in 2012
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MEXICO CITY, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Mexico will produce less corn than expected this year after the crop was battered first by hard frosts in parts of the country and then by drought, the agriculture ministry said on Tuesday.
Mariano Ruiz, Mexico’s deputy Agriculture Minister, said the harvest would fall to 20 million tonnes this year, less than the 23 million tonnes originally forecast. Next year the crop should recover, he said.
“This year has been a complicated year compared to 2010, which was a very good year,” said Ruiz in an interview.
Frosts in northern Sinaloa state, which produces most of Mexico’s Autumn-Winter corn, as well as a lack of rain in the middle of the year and a second frost in September in the central states, all combined to hurt this year’s harvest.
Mexico grows mostly white corn to make the country’s staple tortillas but has to import yellow corn for animal feed. Ruiz said imports in 2011 would reach between 8 million and 9 million tonnes.
In spite of the lower production this year, Ruiz said he does not expect a big jump in yellow corn imports due to a pickup in production of other feed grains.
“We don’t expect imports to be above last year‘s,” he said. “We don’t see any problem in the supply of corn,” he said, referring to white corn.
Ruiz said he expects the corn harvest to recover in 2012 to 25 million tonnes.
“For the coming year we’re expecting a return to normal levels of production,” he said. (Reporting by Adriana Barreral; editing by Jim Marshall)